The World Health Organization Friday questioned wealthy nations moving to vaccinate low-risk groups, such as children, against COVID-19, while some poor and middle-income countries do not have enough vaccine for health care workers.
At the agency’s Friday briefing at its headquarters in Geneva, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke once again about the “gross distortions” of vaccine access in the world.
He said just .03 percent of the world’s produced vaccines have gone to low-income nations.
Tedros said he could understand why nations want to immunize their children, but he urged them to reconsider and donate as much vaccine as they can spare to the international vaccine cooperative, COVAX, the WHO-run program that distributes vaccine to poorer countries.
The WHO chief said many nations are still in the throes of the crisis, with hospitals inundated and care workers who have not had access to the vaccine. He said while India remains “hugely concerning,” Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand and Egypt are all seeing spikes in cases and hospitalizations.
Tedros said some countries in the Americas are still experiencing high numbers of cases. The Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Resource Center reports Brazil continues to rank third in total cases behind the United States and India and second behind the U.S. in total deaths. The WHO chief said the Americas as a region accounted for 40 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in the past week.
The WHO chief did say there was good news this week as a number of new countries have contributed vaccine to the COVAX program and vaccine manufacturers have announced technology transfers and sharing deals with each other to increase production worldwide.
Tedros said he himself was vaccinated this week, and he urged anyone who lives in a country where vaccines are available, to get inoculated as soon as possible.